Quiet Lanes explorer review
The Norfolk Coast Guardian has contained reviews of the Norfolk Coast Cycleway loops over recent years and in 2011 featured the Quiet Lanes.
Cycling received a high profile with a Tour of Britain stage passing through the county which brought crowds out to see the worlds élite riders flying past. The demand for information on the Norfolk Coast Cycleway meant an early reprint for the map guide and an excuse to check out some of the route and a review for the Norfolk Coast Guardian 2011.
Quiet Lanes explorer
Away from the bustling north coast this rural area has to be one of most enjoyable areas along the Norfolk Coast Cycleway. My route takes the form of a figure eight covering about 35 miles but the beauty of the Quiet Lanes explorer is that you can make up your own route as you go. Starting at Overstrand (Anglo-Saxon Ox Strand meaning above the beach and christened Poppyland by writer Clement Scott) by Carr Lane, across the A149 onto the Quiet Lane to Northrepps (optional route 2 on the cycleway map). Crossing the former railway line that brought in visitors during Poppylands heyday and climbing up to the ridge where there are panoramic views across the Overstrand coastline and towards Cromer.
Entering Northrepps the village sign shows an insight into the villages history. Home of the Gurney family (founders of what became Barclays Bank), Henry Rolls designed his car radiator grille whilst staying here, it is where the Gallas plough was developed and one can be seen inside the Church. Indeed, like in most communities churches provide an insight into the wider history of the area and not just a religious aspect. For those interested the tower is 90 feet high with 8 bells, 2 of which date from the 17th century and the font, some benches and the rood screen from the 15th century.
Following the cycleway route, past the Foundry Arms PH along the lanes and onto Southrepps where the imposing tower of St James church beckons you from way off. Southrepps is a village in two halves Upper and Lower, possibly connected with the Black Death. Entering Upper Southrepps and joining the main street by the Vernon Arms PH turn right down the street before taking the left immediately after the stores that leads to Lower Southrepps. The route emerges through a line of roadside trees known as the Avenue of Remembrance. From here its a short ride to Gunton station on the Norwich to Sheringham Bittern Line and ideal starting point if arriving by train. Passengers alighting are greeted by a gateway sign to the cycleway and even a covered cycle storage rack.
After exiting the Avenue of Remembrance youll pass Southrepps Common which is a Local Nature Reserve comprising of 12 hectares of woodland, reeds, grass and rare wild flowers. Cycleway signs now direct you towards Trunch, but since this is an explorer route its off to investigate the signposted Bradfield Hall walks and Bradfield church first.
Pass through Trunch and continue on to Mundesley, a pleasant coast village known as Muleslai in the Domesday book. Mundesley has a range of businesses, shops and things to see and do, the Maritime museum above the beach is said to be the smallest museum. The climb out of the village towards Paston is one of the few sections of the cycleway using busier roads and the sight of Stow Mill encourages you to reach the top (open to the public). Next village is Paston, noted for the Paston Letters that painted a vivid picture of country life between 1422 and 1509. Take a deserved rest by the restored village pond, visit St Margaret flint church with its thatched roof dating from the 14th century and admired the magnificent Paston Barn, built in 1581 this flint and brick barn is 160feet long, 24feet wide and 60ft to the apex with a thatched roof and has the added distinction of being designated a SSSI for its bat colony (closed to public).
Leaving Paston and off the main road skirting alongside the vast Bacton Interconnector site heading away from the coast, Bacton parish includes the nearby settlements of Bacton Green, Bromholm with its ruined Cluniac Priory, Keswick and Pollard Street. At Church Farm theres an option to follow the cycleway towards Bacton or take the tempting quiet lane into Edingthorpe where the beautiful All Saints Church with its thatched roof and round tower stands isolated from the village. The tower is Saxon at the bottom and late Medieval at the top, with many medieval survivals within.
Tasked with checking the cycleway route as far as Ridlington today it's on to Pollard Street and a thankfully few metres on a busy road before a meandering ride that takes me past the isolated Witton church where a walk to the bottom of the churchyard provides wide panoramic views as far as Happisburgh lighthouse. Taking the Ridlington road out of Witton Bridge and glancing back to smile at the illusion of a bridge at the road junction.
Returning toward Overstrand now, past Bacton Woods, open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders and along lanes before entering Trunch. St Botolph Church is famous for its carved and painted wood canopy, a hammer beam roof with carved angels, and reputedly Lord Nelsons daughter was married here. Trunch is a busy community with a thriving village stores and pub. Leaving Trunch towards Gimingham take the quiet lane to the left towards Southrepps, branching right along a track (across the main Mundesley to Southrepps road) and on into Gimingham. Thought to originate from homestead (ham) of Gymmas people (an Anglo-Saxon warlord whose people settled here in 5th to 6th Century). A feature of the village being the mill pond that stretches along the main street, the rebuilt corn mill replacing the original watermill burnt down in 1979. The pit for the original water wheel still remains, as does the old diesel engine, which provided power to the mill for many years.
Continuing through the village head west taking quiet lanes to avoid the busy coast road to the outskirts of Sidestrand the variety of scenery in just these few miles proves this area of Norfolk is a secret gem to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. From here its up over the ridge into Northrepps once again and this time down into Overstrand via the main cycle route and option 1, before riding along the cliff top to savour the coast before completing an enjoyable days ride.
(Route reviewed Autumn 2010 for 2011 edition)
Below are some more images taken when cycling round for this review.